The Branson Regional Arts Council announces the establishment of the Gary Wackerly Branson Show Awards Scholarship Fund which will soon benefit young students from the Branson Tri-Lakes area.

Gary Wackerly & BRAC Executive Director Jim Barber

As an associate member of the League of Branson Theatre Owners & Show Producers (Branson Show League), the Arts Council has agreed to administrate the scholarship fund in memory of Mr. Wackerly who lived in Branson for 16 years, and passed away on January 5, 2019 at the age of 72. A long time supporter of the Arts, his love of Branson Shows, Theatres, and Music, has been greatly appreciated by our area entertainers and community members.

Through this scholarship, Mr. Wackerly’s enthusiasm for the entertainment industry will be communicated to future professionals in the Performing Arts world.

The Wackerly family, along with the Arts Council and the Show League, have designated that the scholarship be awarded to a Theatre, Music, and/or a Math Student from a High School in the Branson Tri-Lakes Area.

When application information and funds are ready for distribution, the Branson Regional Arts Council and Michael Wackerly (son of Gary Wackerly) will then select winners and present recipients their scholarship on the popular radio and television show “Branson Country USA”.


Donations should be made out to the Branson Regional Arts Council (or BRAC) and designate proceeds to go to the Gary Wackerly Branson Show Awards Scholarship Fund. All donations are 100% tax deductible. Checks may be mailed to: Branson Regional Arts Council, PO Box 2004 Branson MO 65615.

The Branson Regional Arts Council is looking for a few angels who would be interested in furthering the goals of our Youth Education Program of developing artistic, cultural, and educational opportunities for children in our community.

These experiences allow students to gain the confidence and skills necessary to become successful in the field of musical theatre, as well as providing community leadership opportunities. These lifelong tools for success help them become innovative thinkers throughout their educational years, and their leadership experience will assist them in pursuing the career path of their choice.

BRAC recently launched a new musical theatre program for children in our community called “STACCATO”. Staccato is an advanced musical group that combines a challenging music repertoire with entertaining choreography. This show choir provides a unique, one of a kind, arts education experience for young students in the Branson area.

EXCITING NEWS!!!!! The kids in STACCATO have an amazing opportunity to perform at a variety of locations in the Orlando, Florida area including FESTIVAL DISNEY with other Show Choirs from across the country.

We have been working for months to raise the funds necessary to make this awesome opportunity a reality, and we’ve also reduced our travel expenses so that our goal is more achievable. Each student must now raise $700 to participate in this “once in a lifetime” educational opportunity. The money raised will go towards providing transportation, food, airfare, fees and travel expenses for this weeklong trip and competition. We must reach our fundraising goal by February 15th.

Can you help make this dream a reality for our students?


Donate Online via Credit or Debit Card at:

0r Mail a Personal or Business Check to:

Branson Regional Arts Council
Youth Educational Fund
PO Box 2004
Branson, Mo. 65615
If you are sponsoring a specific student, please notate their name on your check.

We appreciate your generosity, and THANK YOU for your support of STACCATO!
Viola Beyer – Fundraising Coordinator
Jim Barber – BRAC Executive Director
Lloyd Alexander-Holt – BRAC Director of Vocal Studies
Karie Dykeman – BRAC Education Department Administrative Assistant
Lisa Murphy – BRAC President
Kimberly Hale – BRAC Vice President, Educational Advisory Chair and the cast members of STACCATO

Ventriloquist and comedian Jim Barber will be presenting a concert of comedy and music on Saturday, January 12th at 2pm and 7pm at the Historic Owen Theatre. The event is a benefit show with 100% of the proceeds going to the Branson Regional Arts Council. Advanced reserve tickets are $14.95 (Adults 18+), and $9.95 (4-17) and can be purchased online at A small service charge applies to all ticket sales.


Sharing the stage with Jim will be his friends Melonie Brown, Babette Fogle and Aloha Post who perform together as Harmony Trio, as well as the multi-talented arial violinist Janice Martin from A Janice Martin Cirque Show appearing at the Americana Theatre in 2019. Jim’s 17 year-old daughter Jessica Barber will also be singing in the evening show only, as well as a special appearance by internationally acclaimed juggler Michael Chirrick.

Jim’s unique approach to the art of ventriloquism and his unusual vocal skills have earned him the reputation as one of the most original ventriloquist acts in the world.  He has been featured on many national television shows, most notably, the Late Show with David Letterman.

Jim’s career started in Minneapolis, MN where he co-hosted a local children’s television show (Breakfast with Casey Jones) while attending college at the University of Minnesota. During that time, he also entertained for military troops as host of a USO variety show all across the United States and several Mediterranean countries. Jim then moved to Nashville, TN as a featured performer aboard Opryland USA’s General Jackson Showboat, for two seasons, before setting out on a ten-year tour of comedy clubs and colleges across the country. This led to an invitation to come to Branson as the featured comedian in the Glen Campbell Goodtime Show in the mid-90’s.  Jim went on to perform at the Kirby VanBurch Theatre, Osmond Family Theater, Jimmy Osmond’s American Jukebox Theatre, and eventually a 10-year run at the Hamner Barber Theatre. In 2017 Jim accepted the role of Executive Director of the Branson Regional Arts Council and has since devoted his time and energy to working with a large group of talented volunteers who, together, are developing new and exciting community arts programming for all residents in the Branson Tri-Lakes area.